Ways & How

How to Hem Pants

How to Hem Pants

Knowing how to hem pants is one of those obscure yet easy to learn life skills that could bail you out of a tricky situation. Seen a perfect pair of pants on sale but thought it was too long? Have trouble finding a pair that fits just right and is also the right length? Need to adjust the hem for a teen who’s in between sizes? Want to avoid pricey alteration fees for such a simple procedure? All these situations can be solved easily if you know how to hem pants. The materials you need can be found in any basic, dollar-store sewing kit: a tape measure, tailor’s chalk, a pair of scissors, a ripper, pins, a needle, and thread matching the color of the pants. For added ease and convenience, you could also use pinking shears, a serger, a zigzag sewing machine, or Fray Check (as needed).

      1. Undo the hem of the pants by carefully ripping out the stitches.

      2. Put on the pants and the shoes you will wear with them. Mark the spot on your pants three quarters of the way down your shoes’ heels.



        Pinch-fold and pin in place. Stand straight and check the length on a mirror. You might also try sitting down and checking if the length is right. Adjust if necessary.

      3. Take off the pants and turn them inside out. Measure the distance of the pinch-fold you made from the edge of the pants and mark with tailor’s chalk all around, making sure that the measurement is the same throughout. Then pin in place, using a minimum of six pins. Do the same for the other leg.

      4. Iron the hems. Measure from the ironed hem down to the edge of the fabric. Make marks all around, 2 inches down from the fold this time. Repeat on the other leg. Cut along the mark with your scissors. If you have pinking shears, they are the better option as they eliminate the need to finish the edge of the fabric. Remember: Measure twice, cut once.

      5. Finish the raw edge to keep it from fraying by using a serger or overlock machine if you have one, making a zigzag stitch on the sewing machine, or applying Fray Check (available at craft or sewing supply stores). Alternatively, you can just fold the fabric 3/8” to the inside to hide it from view, sandwiching it inside the finished hem.

      6. Sew the hem in place with a blindstitch on your sewing machine, or make a blindstitch or blanket stitch by hand. Make sure to use thread that matches the color of the pants, especially when using the sewing machine, so that the thread doesn’t show on the right side. When sewing by hand, catch only one or two threads of the pants fabric as you go to keep the stitching as invisible as possible. Start at the inseam and sew around, then repeat on the other leg.

      7. Press the new hem.

And with that, you are the happy owner of a new pair of pants or trousers that fit just right and won’t cause you to stumble over your own feet. It’s amazing how simple it is. With practice, you will gain confidence. You don’t have to be scared of buying good quality pants on sale just because their length isn’t right. Armed with your newfound knowledge of how to hem pants, you can even treat yourself to a new pair of pants right now.

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